Gingerbread Cake

4.85

16

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This gingerbread cake recipe is the Christmas cake you need to be making. The mix of spice is on point, the texture is divine and the mini Christmas trees on top are very festive. Bake this up and serve it with a cup of warm homemade hot chocolate with mint chocolate chip marshmallows.

Gingerbread Cake frosted with coffee

I’m going to be honest with you: gingerbread cake isn’t on the top of my list of all-time favorite cake flavors. It’s usually too spicy, too dry…too blah. But this one is different. A hint of orange zest is added and mixed with the sugar to add a citrus-y element that is undetectable but oh so delicious. 
The aroma of this cake will make you want to make ALL the Christmas things. If you’re looking for gingerbread flavors without the labor of the cake, make these Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies or my Gingerbread Latte. Problem solved.

Ingredients You’ll Need for this Gingerbread Cake

Spices and Ingredients on counter
  1. Molasses – Look for a brand that says unsulphered molasses. I used the Grandma’s Molasses label.
  2. Spices – We can’t have gingerbread without lots of spices: ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice. We need them all!
  3. Oil – This is going to give the cake lots of moisture. No dry cakes!
  4. Orange – A flavor note that complements gingerbread? Orange zest. And we’re using it and including it in this cake. It will be undetectable but instead accentuate the flavors.

For the rest of the ingredients, please refer to the recipe card below!

Spices

How to Make Gingerbread Cake 

  1. Start by whisking together the dry ingredients. We have: all-purpose flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg and kosher salt. This may sound like a lot of spices and it is an array but they all work deliciously well together. Promise. 
  2. Mix together the brown sugar, white sugar and orange zest together. This will aggravate the orange zest and really bring out its oils. We want this. We need this. 
  3. Pour in the neutral oil and beat it until combined. Then add in the egg and molasses. Mix again. And then pour in the hot water.  This mixture will be super water.
  4. So I like to then mix in the dry ingredients by hand. You really don’t need a stand-up mixer for this recipe. A big bowl and a spatula will suffice just fine. 
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared 8×8-inch baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Gingerbread Cake with frosting

Tips and Tricks

  • How to Store this Gingerbread Cake – This gingerbread cake should be stored at room temperature and I usually like to cover it with a net or a cake glass cover. You can even use a colander and flip it upside down if you don’t have anything special for cakes.
  • Use fresh nutmeg (if you can) – I prefer freshly grated nutmeg to the pre-ground but if that’s all you have, it’ll be fine!  And the brown butter cream cheese frosting is a true game-changer. 
Gingerbread Cake frosted with coffee

Recipe FAQs


What is the different between unsulphered and blackstrap molasses?

Molasses derives from sugarcane. And unsulphered molasses points to the absence of sulfur dioxide which is a bleaching agent which helps lighten it in color. The most popular brand and the brand I used for this post is Grandma’s Molasses. Avoid blackstrap molasses for baking

Gingerbread Cake frosted with coffee

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4.85 from 13 votes

Gingerbread Cake

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Cooling Time:: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 8
This gingerbread cake recipe is the Christmas cake you need to be making. The mix of spice is on point, the texture is divine and the mini Christmas trees on top are very festive. 

Ingredients 

Gingerbread Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil, (I used avocado oil)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulphered molasses, (such as Grandma's Molasses brand)
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups + 6 tablespoons powdered sugar , (sifted and divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • Red and Green Coloring Gel, (optional)

Instructions 

To Make the Gingerbread Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8-inch baking pan. I also like to line my baking pan with a parchment just to make sure nothing sticks.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, freshly grated and salt. Set the dry mixture aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand-up mixer (or you could even use a large bowl with a spatula), with the paddle attachment, add the brown sugar, white sugar and orange zest. Mix this together to aggravate the orange zest. It should smell fragrant! Pour in the neutral oil; mix again. And then add in the egg and molasses. Give it a good mix until totally combined. Pour in and gently mix in the hot water. It'll be sloshy at first so just do it gently. If this means you do it by hand then do so!
  • Pour in half of the dry ingredients and fold it into the wet mixture. Add the second half and then mix again. It will be a super thin cake batter–that’s ok! Pour it into the prepared baking pan and transfer to the oven to bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a baking sheet to cool completely before adding the frosting.

To Make the Brown Butter Frosting:

  • In a small saucepan, set over medium heat, add the butter. Once it’s melted, it will begin to foam up and bubble a bit. Allow it to cook until you begin to see lightly browned specks beginning to form. Give it a stir and cook until it’s browned. You should also start to smell its nutty aroma. Pour it in a freezer-safe bowl and stir to cool it down.
  • Transfer it to the freezer to chill, for about 10-15 minutes. We want it to be around room temperature butter. After it gets to that room temperature butter-firmness (it can be a bit softer—that’s ok), transfer it to the bowl of a stand-up mixer (or bowl using an electric mixer). Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. You want to beat the butter and cream cheese together FIRST to ensure ultimate smoothness.
  • Sift in the 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and add the vanilla extract, salt and heavy cream. Beat the frosting for about 3 minutes. The fluffiness from the heavy cream really lightens up this frosting so be sure to beat it for the full 2 minutes. If the frosting is too loose, feel free to transfer it to the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes. Then beat it one last time.

To Make the Mini Christmas Tree Decoration (Very Optional):

  • Scoop out two tablespoons of frosting and add it to a small bowl. Repeat this with another two tablespoons of frosting. You'll have two bowls of frosting.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar to each bowl (for a total of 6 tablespoons). And mix in it in. This will thicken up the frosting a bit so it's easier to pipe. Add two drops of red food coloring gel to the first bowl. Mix. And then add two drops of green food coloring gel to the second bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Divide the frostings amongst two piping bags fitted with #2 piping tip (a small round tip).

To Assemble the Cake:

  • Pour all of the frosting on the cooled sheet cake and spread it around, creating cute swoops as you go.
  • Using the green color, add a squiggly line, starting skinny on top (as the top of the tree) and going wider (to resemble the bottom of a tree). Add a dot at the bottom to replicate the "stump". And then top it with a red dot. You can obviously get as fancy and elaborate as you like with this.
  • Cake will stay moist for about 2 to 3 days when wrapped properly.

Notes

Tips and Tricks 
  • This gingerbread cake is pretty easy to make. I will say be sure to measure your spices accurately. If you’re missing one, you’re flirting with blandness. I prefer freshly grated nutmeg to the pre-ground but if that’s all you have, it’ll be fine! 
  • This gingerbread cake should be stored at room temperature and I usually like to cover it with a net or a cake glass cover. You can even use a colander and flip it upside down if you don’t have anything special for cakes. If you like, you can also wrap slices in plastic wrap and it’ll store for quite some time. A few days, I’d guess.
Equipment: 
8×8-inch Baking Pan | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Piping Bags |
Piping Tips | Parchment Paper Sheets
 

Nutrition

Calories: 557kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 347mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 77g | Vitamin A: 519IU | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Christmas
Like this Recipe? Please Rate & comment below!

Cozy Latin-Inspired Comfort Food Recipes

Hi! I'm Adrianna and this is my cozy space on the internet that is super-charged by butter, flour and copious amounts of pasta. Stay awhile, will you!

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16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I LOVE this cake! So flavorful, love the orange pop! The cake is so moist and not crumbly. The frosting is the perfect compliment. Also decorated just as shown and it was so pretty! This is going into my holiday repertoire!

    1. The orange is such a good flavor profile with the gingerbread. I’m so glad it worked out. Happy Holidays.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for a Christmas party and it was a crowd favorite. I added a little cardamom to the spice mix and lined the outer edge with dried oranges.

  3. 5 stars
    Soooo delicious! Just made this for the second time – I did reduce the temp slightly (to 340 degrees) as my top burned the first time while the inside got a little dry.

  4. 5 stars
    Hi I love baking and I really want to make this cake it looks scrumptious! ,question can I use any other type of oil, and if I do will it alter the flavor.
    Thank you in advance

  5. Hi! If I want to make the cake ahead of time, should I keep the cake wrapped in plastic in the fridge and bring back to room temp before frosting? Thanks 🙂

    1. hi! it depends how far in advance you want to make it. if it’s just a day, i would let it cool, wrap it in plastic fridge and put it in the fridge. and then frost it and serve it at room temp! 🙂

  6. I made this today and it’s delicious! BUT I could not get the middle to get done. The outside was getting brown and pulling from the edges, but my middle was still so loose. We ate it anyways lol, but any ideas what I did wrong?

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe this past weekend. It is a keeper! The cake is nice and moist and spiced to perfection. The brown butter cream cheese frosting is amazeballs. Soooooo good. Everyone loved it!

  8. 3 stars
    I was quite excited to bake this cake but the results were not as I expected. The cake itself though flavourful was stodgy and quite sweet but that cream cheese was even sweeter. Despite the brown butter adding that lovely nutty taste and aroma to the frosting, the flavour of it was lost with the amount of powdered sugar used in the recipe. There’s potential to the recipe but I guess modification might bring out a better outcome. Either way, Thanks for sharing the recipe. Happy holidays.